In light of the infamous Titus Young, who managed to get arrested three times in one week, we’re forced to remember other athletes who have brushed up against the law and who have managed to keep trouble close by. Professional sports are breeding grounds for God complexes and pro athletes seem to think King Kong has got sh*t on them. The Michael Vicks and Titus Youngs of the world have proven such, letting us know that no athlete’s ineptitude is free from the justice system.
An obvious transition brings us to the Portland’s special team of past, present and future inmates: The Jail Blazers. The only team in the history of sports whose nickname derives from its constant run-ins with the law and is truly a testament to the worst behaved team we have ever seen. Such an odious dubbing doesn’t come from minor infringements or one star player acting out casually, but rather a snowball effect that has brought the Trail Blazers to their own imminent demise.
It was 2001 when Maurice Cheeks took over the coaching position. The 90s hadn’t been so kind to the Portland Trail Blazers. They were a great team with players such as Clyde Drexler running the show. They even made it to the championship only to lose to the player they passed on in the draft, having gone with Sam Bowie instead. Of course that player is Michael Jordan. It is safe to say the ghost of Sam Bowie is still casting a shadow over the Blazers.
During the 90s, the Blazers were a solid team, always a competitor in the west, but never stepping up and winning it. They were missing something that they hoped they would find in Sam Bowie as the number 2 overall pick, right before the Bulls took Jordan.
Things haven’t been going too well for the Blazers right now either. Their number 1 overall pick, Greg Oden, couldn’t even last in the NBA and is one of the biggest busts of our time. Brandon Roy, a young talented player who showed a lot of promise had to retire at the age of 23.
But it’s not just the injuries that hurt the Blazers franchise, rather it was the dark years between 2001-2004. Maurice Cheeks took over as the head coach as Mike Dunleavy stepped away. Cheeks had the distinct pleasure of coaching some of the more talented and dysfunctional NBA players ever to walk through the Rose Garden as well as the NBA.
The notable players during the Jail Blazers tenure were: Bonzi Wells, Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Zach Randolph, Ruben Patterson, Scottie Pippen, Chris Dudley, Arvydas Sabonis, Darius Miles, Qyntel Woods, Shawn Kemp and Omar Cook. One would look at this roster and think to themselves – Wow, if they had it together they could actually have been a great team — but instead they acted more immaturely than any other athletes whom we can remember.
The Jail Blazers were known for doing stupid sh*t. They fought amongst themselves as well as with the public. They cursed at autograph seekers, they stole from teammates and they even threatened the lives of the staff. This was considered to be just another day at the office for the Jail Blazers. Their attitude was quite simple: To hell with this city, I’m gonna go out and get mine. The Blazers managed to fall short of any expectations, even the easiest that included representing a city that loves its team.
Let’s take a look at the most absurd group of dope smoking, wife-beating, salary-stealing NBA players in history.
Patterson: A registered sex offender who was arrested for felony domestic abuse against his wife at the time. He also attempted to rape his children’s nanny.
Randolph: Managed a DUI and punched out Patterson during practice, breaking his eye socket. He was as one of the laziest players in the NBA. The cops were even studying Randolph’s MTV “Cribs” episode because known felons appeared to be lounging at Randolph’s house.
Stoudamire: Multiple marijuana charges, including speeding while under the influence and trying to gain access through an airport metal detector with 1.5 ounces of the drug wrapped in aluminum foil.
Woods: Marijuana charge and was also arrested for animal abuse because of participation in a dog fighting operation.
Kemp: Had to leave the Blazers mid-season to enter rehab for cocaine and alcohol abuse. Has fathered seven children out of wedlock (and the number is actually thought to be higher).
Wells: “They [the fans] really don’t matter to us.”
Wallace: Aside from his record for most technical fouls, he also threatened a ref after a game (Although, it was Tim Donaghy, so in retrospect…)
Jermaine O’Neal: Nothing as a Blazer, but he didn’t help matters… he went loco during the “Malice at the Palace,” so I doubt he was a saint while he was there.
Derek Anderson: The swingman was once “spotted in 2005… going through a drive-through window at McDonald’s while his team was playing a game at the Rose Garden.”
Darius Miles: Used the “N” word toward his coach Mo Cheeks, which Cheeks found offensive, suspended by the league for dope smoking, and is also one of the biggest wastes of God-given athletic ability in history. He also played in that terrible movie where college students cheated on their SATs. Must have not been that hard for him to play as he probably experienced it first hand
My two favorite stories come courtesy of “The Big Lead” by way of Canzano:
“Whenever the Blazers sign a player to a 10-day contract the equipment manager provides the player with a free set of team-issue luggage. Sort of a welcome gift. Nothing incredibly fancy, but it’s way better than the stuff I have. So Omar Cook is signed a couple of years ago, and the luggage is placed in front of his locker.
Cook was flying in from out of town, so he’s not there yet. Ruben Patterson, the team’s registered sex offender, sees the luggage, knows Cook isn’t around yet, and Patterson basically just decides he’s going to abscond the luggage. He just rips the name tags off and takes it. Nobody says a word, either. It’s not anything violent, but it demonstrates the lack of decency and respect that permeated.”
And this one as well, from the same article:
“Another time, in the visiting locker room in Dallas, I had Rasheed Wallace threaten to punch me after a playoff-game loss. Deadline was approaching, I’m the only writer in the locker room and I’m asking Rasheed questions, and he whips around, and tells me to get out of his space or he’s going to punch me out. At that point, his teammates are all looking to see how I react, and in no way am I going to back down.
I’m looking at Rasheed, and thinking if he takes a swing I’m going to try and stuff him into the locker behind him if only because journalists everywhere need me to man up in that situation. Either that, or I’m going to get knocked out and blow my deadline. So I tell him I’m not moving. I just stand there, holding my notepad and recorder, and we’re staring at each other. He eventually storms past me to the shower, and while he’s gone Zach Randolph, a rookie then, leans in to me and says, “When ‘sheed comes back, make sure you don’t have your back to him. He’ll sucker punch you.”
The great irony is that a month later Randolph sucker-punched Ruben Patterson during a practice breaking his eye socket. Someone was holding Patterson’s arms when Randolph threw the haymaker. There was a period of a few days after that incident where Randolph hid out at Dale Davis’ house because he feared that Patterson was going to try and shoot him.”
This really puts Titus Young’s situation in perspective. He must have been watching the Jail Blazers growing up, viewing them as role models! As much as we are glad that the Jail Blazers don’t exist anymore and that there is one player from that organization that has success, Zach Randolph, there is a bit of nostalgia in the badass nature they brought to the game.